A LETTER TO THE TEACHERS OF ENGLISH: 29There is no substitute for reading [Archives:2003/674/Education]

October 6 2003

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear Fellow teachers,
I have written at least twice about reading in the past. On both these occasions, my focus was on the teaching of the reading skills. In this letter I will say how reading, as a habit is important for everyone. You must have heard that reading makes a man ( a woman too!); it is true because only through reading one becomes knowledgeable about the world one lives in, and without this knowledge one cannot be a complete man at all. Most of the famous people in the world have been good readers.
I have heard that Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) advised his disciples to read ('Ekrah'), knowing fully well the importance of reading. There is no doubt that reading is important for teachers and students. If we, teachers, develop the habit of reading, our students will follow us. Reading our lessons and newspapers is not enough; we should read anything good, both in the mother tongue and in English. If our students look at us reading in our leisure, that will be a good motivation for them to read.
Most of the educated parents interested in their children's development encourage them to read. Some of them read to them simple and good stories before they go to bed every night. There are very good bedtime stories available in the market, if you are interested in your children. I have seen many parents making it a regular habit of their children in India and Britain. Unfortunately, in Yemen not many parents are educated and so it is your responsibility to see that your students develop the reading habit with your help.
One of the ways of doing it is to start a class library. You can encourage your students to contribute books to the library as their birthday gifts, not very expensive books, but small and inexpensive ones. Once you have a good collection, you can ask your students to borrow them and read them. They can be asked to tell the story they have read to the class in English or in Arabic, if they find it difficult to tell in English. Each one can read all the books in the class library before they go the next class, and these books can be useful to their juniors and so on. I have done this successfully when I worked as a teacher in schools and so don't hesitate. Most of the parents will appreciate it, if they come to know the value of this exercise and they will help you.
Schools where children cannot afford to contribute can approach some industrialists and philanthropists who would be willing to help.
One of the sad things which I have noticed in this country is that there is no motivation in our students in the universities to buy books; they prefer photocopying to buying books. This is probably the offshoot of the lack of reading habit in them. In addition, I hardly see any public libraries with newspapers and magazines where people can go and read. But I am heartened to see people carrying and reading newspapers in Arabic; newspapers and magazines are distributed in public meetings for the benefit of the people. I only request you to inculcate this habit of reading, in the mother tongue as well as in English in your students, the result will be tremendous. Good luck.

Yours fraternally,
Dr.M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])